Impressionism is a 19th century art movement that originated in Paris. The main impressionists of the time included Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Degas (Auricchio, 2000). Van Gogh is often referred to as an impressionist artist. However, Van Gogh was a post-impressionist who modified the techniques of the early impressionists (Auricchio, 2000).
Impressionist paintings are characterized by thin but visible brush strokes, emphasis on human perception, and a focus on lighting. The impressionist painters used freely brushed vibrant colours to construct their works. They portrayed overall visual effects and shifted their focus away from lines and contours (Griffel, 1994). They also painted realistic scenes, such as landscapes and scenes of modern life, which was radical in their time.
In the mid-19th century, the Academie des Beaux-Arts upheld traditional French painting standards. The Academie preferred paintings that looked real when examined closely- works in which brush strokes were not visible, and which used more conservative colours (Auricchio, 2000). The impressionist painters placed importance on human perception and expressionism. Impressionism was largely a democratic movement; the painters attacked the hierarchy of Paris’ art world. Impressionism was a revolutionary movement in visual arts that later found its way into music and literature.
To learn more about impressionism, navigate through and explore the different pages of this website. ‘The Painting Process’ video below is a great place to get your feet wet. Feel free to post any comments, and facilitate discussion in the ‘Leave A Reply’ box at the bottom of this page.
THE PAINTING PROCESS:
(Le Prince, 2010)